Heritage Rail Express


This fine portrait was contributed by Jason Smid and shows 3642 and period 12-wheel passenger stock displayed at Central Station

for the 150 years of NSW Railways celebrations on 24 September 2005.



The Clyde Engineering Co Ltd,

Granville NSW



Builder’s Number & Year

376 of 1926



Wheel Arrangement




No. in class



Successors to the (C)35 class 4-6-0 on top passenger duties where the larger and more powerful (C)36 class, designed by New South Wales Government Railways (NSWGR) under CME E. Lucy for hauling the newly introduced stock of heavy passenger carriages without resort to double-heading and with a high capacity tender to allow 100 miles running without stops for servicing.  Passenger duties on NSWGR main lines called for a large, free steaming boiler to meet the demands of steep and curvaceous routes, and the (C)36 class were originally supplied with large round-top boilers at 180 psi together with 23” diameter pistons and 69” diameter driving wheels producing 30,500 lbs tractive effort, providing good hill climbing and a fast turn of speed.  Walschaerts (outside) valve gear was also specified to make lubrication and maintenance easier.  Construction was divided between the NSWGR Eveleigh Workshops (10) and Clyde Engineering Co, Sydney (65).

The (C)36 class were nicknamed ‘Pigs’ by railwaymen, perhaps due to the appearance of the large diameter boiler and smokebox.  They were superseded on top link passenger trains by the (C)38 class Pacifics from the late 1940’s but found further use on secondary passenger and mail duties, together with some fast freight work.  In time the original round-top boilers became due for renewal and almost all class members were rebuilt in the mid-1950’s with Belpaire boilers at 200 psi, together with new cabs; as rebuilt the traffic effort increased to 33,880 lbs.

Late in the steam era the class were being increasingly used for fast freight, banking and pick-up good services, leading to crew complaints about heavy reversers, so six class members (3638, 3642, 3644, 3651, 3652 & 3654) were fitted with power reverse gear salvaged from withdrawn locomotives of other types.  These six were among the final (C)36’s in revenue service, with 3642 becoming the last when officially condemned on 28 November 1969 but retained for historical purposes.

The authorative ‘Steam Locomotive Data’ (July 1974 edition) provides the following milestones for loco 3642:

In Service:

18 January 1926

Rebuilt with Belpaire boiler:

12 December 1955


28 November 1969

Distance Travelled:

Not recorded

Nb. The distance travelled was not recorded upon 3642’s withdrawal, presumably in recognition of its ongoing service in heritage use within the NSW Rail Transport Museum (NSWRTM) fleet based at Enfield No.1 Roundhouse.  Alas the Enfield roundhouses were demolished in 1975 for a proposed container terminal, with 3642 and other NSWRTM exhibits relocated to Thirlmere.

3642 has received a number of heavy overhauls during its career as a trafficable heritage locomotive, including a boiler exchange at Goulburn Workshops in 1980 using a spare boiler retrieved from departmental use at Chullora Workshops.  It was withdrawn from service in the late 1990’s and statically displayed at Thirlmere for a number of years until funding for overhaul was announced in 2006, culminating in a further boiler exchange (using boiler 3646B, one of several spare (C)36 class boilers retrieved from static use) and re-launch to traffic on 1 March 2008.  3642 is normally based in the new semi-roundhouse built at the ‘Trainworks’ museum, Thirlmere, redeveloped from the NSWRTM museum on the same site.

Tours using 3642 are often marketed under the Heritage Express ‘Legends of Steam’ brand, leveraging the loco’s authentic and attractive lined green livery, long history as a tour loco and reputation for spirited main-line running.  The webmaster has enjoyed several such tours over the years!

Further information about 3642 can be found on the NSW Office on Environment and Heritage fact sheet for this locomotive.  There is also some information about the related Commonwealth Railways C-class on the page for sister 3609.

The following series of photos is courtesy of John Hurst from his collection of railway images.

This view is dated April 1982 and John’s caption reads:

“After a photo stop, a chance to catch a glint shot of 3642 as she waits for the photographers to reboard the train.

The location is between Tarago and Joppa Junction.”

Another view of 3642 courtesy of John Hurst’s collection of railway images.  John’s caption reads:

“This photo was taken in April 1982 when 3642 hauled a special train from Canberra to Goulburn and back.

The train is seen crossing the Butmaroo Creek trestle, just out of Bungendore, NSW.”

Another photo courtesy of John Hurst from his collection of railway images and dated April 1982:

“3642 makes an impressive backdrop of smoke as she crosses the Burbong bridge, between Queanbeyan and Bungendore.”

A nice broadside view of 3642 at Queanbeyan in April 1982, courtesy of John Hurst.

The green livery worn by 3642 following its heavy overhaul at Goulburn in 1980 – 1981 had a warm orange tint,

highlighted by the red running board and tender frame, evident in photos from that period.

A detail photo of 3642’s power reverse gear, courtesy of John Hurst and dated July 1984.

This was fitted to 3642 and 5 others in 1967 to replace the original manual reverse mechanism.

These power reversers are often said to have come from withdrawn (C)38 class Pacifics, but were also fitted to (D)57 and (D)58 class locos.

One day I will take a close look at 3642’s reverser and hopefully find some stamp marks to show which loco it was originally fitted to!



‘Locomotives of Australia - 1985 to 2010’ (Fifth Edition), by Leon Oberg,

published 2010 by Rosenberg Publishing Pty Ltd.


‘A Compendium of New South Wales Steam Locomotives’ compiled by Alex Grunbach,

published by the Australian Railway Historical Society, New South Wales Division, 1989.


‘Steam Locomotive Data’ July 1974 edition, compiled by J. H. Forsyth for the

Public Transport Commission of NSW.


Wikipedia entry for the NSWGR (C)36 class, retrieved 17 March 2016.


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